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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Soft Spots: A Marine's Memoir of Combat and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder » User review

A firsthand account of the real amount of national treasure bled out into the soil of Iraq

  • Mar 1, 2009
My wife Kathy is a counselor with specialized training in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and she did her internship at a local veteran's center. As the significant other, I have been exposed to a great deal of pillow talk about the problems of veterans in general and those with PTSD in particular. I also accompanied Kathy to a daylong seminar where the topic was PTSD in war veterans. While all cases are of course different, there are many similarities in their cases.
Van Winkle experiences spurts of anger, memory flashbacks that are altered in many ways, he self-medicates in the form of significant alcohol consumption and keeps weapons close at hand. All these are behaviors fairly typical of war veterans suffering from PTSD. What is different about this book is how well Van Winkle describes his experiences, after leaving Iraq he graduated from college as an English major and pursued graduate studies in Wales. He learned those lessons well, his descriptions of combat missions and patrols in Iraq and his relationships with his buddies are told with an understated calm characteristic of the best writers.
There are several disturbing aspects to this book; the first is how many places Van Winkle had to go before he receives anything approaching quality treatment for his problems. The second is the realization of how much emotional, psychological and monetary treasure this nation has bled out into the soil of Iraq. These accounts will continue to be settled for decades to come and the cost will continue to be very high.

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More Soft Spots: A Marine's Memoir ... reviews
review by . May 11, 2009
This troubling memoir of a Marine attempting to live a normal life in the aftermath of a PTSD diagnosis highlights the need for more research into treating this dehabilitating condition. The author survived his tour in Iraq only to return home to a system unable to deal with his now fractured psyche. The memoir is hard to follow- dreams and real life blur, and there is no clear sense of time to give the reader an anchor, but the effect is to plunge the reader into Van Winkle's shifting reality. …
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Charles Ashbacher ()
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Charlie Ashbacher is a compulsive reader and writer about many subjects. His prime areas of expertise are in mathematics and computers where he has taught every course in the mathematics and computer … more
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This memoir of combat in Iraq, and the post-traumatic stress disorder that followed, contains more literary touches than most, and its an admirable effort. Marine sergeant Van Winkle (who earned an M.A. in creative writing after returning from Iraq) emphasizes that every marines desire was not to spread freedom but to come home alive, and while the book describes some firefights, there are even more incidents of Van Winkle and his comrades blazing away at vehicles or distant figures only to discover they had killed civilians. After discharge, fearful memories and violent rages drove him to seek help from a surprisingly unhelpful V.A., but the passage of time, a few sympathetic therapists and a loving wife set him right. The text jumps back and forth between Van Winkles war experiences and postwar life, when marines from his unit, some dead, reappear to badger him. Most readers will forgive this exercise in creative writing techniques because it presents a vivid picture of what many vets endure.(Mar.)
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ISBN-10: 0312378939
ISBN-13: 978-0312378936
Author: Clint Van Winkle
Genre: Health, Mind & Body
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
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